Culture City: The Arts of Scottsdale/Phoenix

Arizona Opera

One of the hidden gems of Phoenix is its local arts scene. The host of world-class museums, theatres, opera, and more, the city is a one-stop shop for any kind of culture you crave.
Arizona Theatre Company
Founded in 1966, Arizona Theatre Company is the official State theatre and supports performances in both Tucson and Phoenix. ATC produces six mainstage productions each season, providing a launchpad for playwrights and actors alike, and is a resident company at the Herberger Theater Center.
Phoenix Art Museum
At the center of the city is the Phoenix Art Museum, which houses a collection of over 20,000 pieces, along with hosting world-class traveling exhibitions. It’s also the home for National Theatre Live – a streaming of the UK’s National Theatre performances – and showcases films, workshops, and discussions.
The Phoenix Theatre Company
With 500 performances under their belt, Phoenix Theatre Company is the largest producing regional theatre in the city. It’s also the oldest arts organization in Arizona, starting in 1920, and fosters an environment that is open to experimental and alternative performances, alongside large-scale musical productions and well-known favorites.
Arizona Opera
Founded in 1971, Arizona Opera has produced over 200 fully staged operas and concerts. The company's artistic history is rich with a blend of opera’s traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and American operas.
Ballet Arizona
A professional ballet company that creates, performs, and teaches classical and contemporary ballet in the Valley, Ballet Arizona works to celebrate classical dance while also commissioning new and innovative pieces. Their annual Nutcracker show is a Phoenix tradition, while their free Ballet Under the Stars performances allow communities to come together and enjoy professional dance.
Musical Instrument Museum
With a collection of over 8,000 instruments from more than 200 countries, the museum is truly one-of-a-kind. Special annual exhibits highlight unique collections and there is a calendar of live performances and events to attend. Multi-day tickets are available in order to experience everything the MIM has to offer.
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
The home to both traditional and contemporary arts, the Center provides audiences access to performances from almost every type of performance medium. From dance to theatre to instrumental showcases and more, there is something for everyone at SCPA across a multitude of indoor and outdoor performance spaces.
Desert Stages Theatre
With over 250 productions since its inception in 1995, Desert Stages Theatre has been a cultural mainstay in Scottsdale. The intimate two-stage theatre offers high-quality entertainment for the entire community, with adult productions and youth shows, both cast with local talent.
Herberger Theater Center
The Herberger Theater Center, with three versatile stages, is the home to five resident companies: Arizona Opera, Arizona Broadway Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Childsplay, and iTheatre Collaborative. Their Lunch Time Theater productions offer a way to experience the theater for a reasonable price on a lunch hour.
Stagebrush Theatre
The Scottsdale Community Players built this theatre in downtown Scottsdale back in 1965 and now is the home to both the longstanding SCP and Greasepaint, which focuses on theater for youth. They perform mainly youth productions but also produce one to two shows a year with adult actors, often alumni of their classes and programs.
Quick Questions with Sean Daniels, Artistic Director, Arizona Theatre Company
What do you want new residents to the Valley to know about the arts scene here?
I grew up in Arizona, and I didn’t grasp this until I left, but the biggest thing I always want people to know is that there is world-class entertainment here that is as good as you’d find in New York, Los Angeles, anywhere. We have shows here that then become Off-Broadway tours, and the theatrical world really looks to Arizona and Arizona Theatre Company as a place where great works start and get exported from. I feel like in Arizona, there’s this sense that if you’re here, you must not be that great, but it’s 100% not true. Not unlike Spring Training, you can see the best here for a portion of the price and better seats.
What’s unique about being the State theatre?
We say that we bring together the best of our state with the best of our country. Many of our shows will have a mix of local and nationally recognized artists but on stage, you can’t tell the difference. There’s great talent and growth here, and we want to show that it’s possible to be in the Valley and make a living at this. As we move more shows Off-Broadway and more shows that tour the country, that’s a great function of being the State theatre also; this is the best of Arizona.
What does the future look like for ATC?
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that we were able to put together some really impressive online digital offerings that reached more students in 72 hours than we reach in an entire year. The state is more than Phoenix and Tucson, so digital has removed the barriers for us to stream to schools all across Arizona. We look to create more and more opportunities for local artists so one of the benefits of digital is that it’s not mainstage productions or nothing – we can be supportive with workshops and readings, and develop plays that way.